Preliminary Dropout, Graduation Data Published by NCES

The National Center of Education Statistics – a part of the U.S. Department of Education – has released high school completion and dropout data covering 2009-2010. The report was compiled based on the information reported by the State Education Agencies who annually collect the completion, enrollment and dropout data and then turn it over to the NCES for analysis.

Over the year covered by the report, more than 3 million Americans left high school with a diploma. That means for that year, the average freshman graduation rate was 78.2% for the country as a whole.

But that number was not uniform across all states. It ranged from as low as 58% for Nevada and 60% in Washington D.C. to as high as 91% in Wisconsin and Vermont.

Students of Asian and Pacific Islander descent had the highest AFGR rates of all ethnic and racial groups at 93.5%. Black students had 66.1% AFGR rates in the period studied, which placed them behind American Indian/Alaska Native students (69.1%,) and Hispanic students with 71.4%. White students had an average AFGR of 83%.

A comparison of data from 2009–10 to data from the prior school year, 2008–09, shows a percentage point or greater increase in the AFGR for 38 states (table 3). The AFGR decreased by a percentage point or more for only the District of Columbia during that same time period.

In 2009-2010 there were 514,238 recorded dropouts – or students who left school prior to graduation – which represented a 3.4% dropout rate. Like AFGR rates, dropout rates were not uniformly distributed across the country. New Hampshire had the lowest rate of dropouts with 1.2% followed closely by Iowa with 1.4%. Arizona's 7.8% drop-out rate was the highest in the country, but Mississippi's 7.4% placed it a close second.

There was an increase in dropout rates in higher grades, with the lowest number of students leaving school in 9th grade and the highest number dropping out in the 12th. This was true both in country-wide data and also reflected the pattern in 24 states. The dropout rate in 12th grade (5.1%) was nearly double that of 9th (2.6%.)

Across the United States, the calculated dropout rate was the lowest for Asian/Pacific Islander students at 1.9 percent and White students at 2.3 percent (table 6). The dropout rates for American Indian/Alaska Native, Black, and Hispanic students were 6.7, 5.5, and 5.0 percent respectively.

Although year-to-year dropout rates increased in Delaware, Illinois and Louisiana by more than 1 percent, a decrease in similar magnitude was found in New Mexico, Mississippi and Wyoming. Data also showed that the dropout rate was higher among male students than among females.

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